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Saturday, January 21, 2006

a Toronto miracle?

Rev. Eugene Rivers is widely credited with what many have termed "The Boston Miracle." Like what Toronto is feeling today, Boston had a surge in gun violence in the early nineties. Rev. Rivers helped create a strategy to reduce gun violence in Boston that saw a peak of 152 murders in 1991 drop to just 31 a few years later. So what do community leaders look to do now that gun crime in Toronto has reached "crisis" numbers - place a call to the good Reverend. So after we pony up a fee of $25,000 does Rev. Rivers drop everything and make an emergency stop in the T-dot. (authors note: I'm not suggesting that Rev. Rivers wasn't deserving of the twenty-five grand, quite the contrary. After seeing mass media exposure Rev. Rivers brought to the cause and the way he was hustled around the city, in the end, his price seemed cheap.) There was no rest for the guy. This dude has to be pushing 60 and they had him addressing city hall, walking the hoods' looking for gang-bangers, and sermonizing at a local Church. By the last day when the Toronto Rap Project finally caught up with him in Jane-Finch - his voice was almost shot. It proved tougher then first thought getting Rev. Rivers on camera sharing his feelings about the whole rap-violence debate. It wasn't that the Reverend didn't want to talk. Believe me, this was a man who was never a loss for words. It was that they had so many speaking engagements to drag him to. And the mainstream media seemed to always be following right behind. So it was a great surprise when one of the star subjects of the Toronto Rap Project - emcee Blacus Ninjah called late one night to tell me that he was set to meet Rev. Rivers early in the morning as Rivers was coming to Jane-Finch. I knew this was going to be the best chance for an interview as the mainstream press were not informed about the Reverend's visit to Driftwood Community Center. Rev. Rivers was still being rushed about with his Toronto publicist telling me he wouldn't be able to stop and answer my questions. But this time, I wasn't taking "no" for an answer and figured the best way to get the Reverend answering a question was not for me to ask it -- but Blacus Ninjah. So after Rev. Rivers briefly addressed the Jane-Finch community and was being whisked away to his next appearance, Blacus stopped Rivers mid-flight and got the Reverend talking about gansta rap, 50 Cent, and the breakdown of the nuclear family. All perfect stuff for the documentary. And all in about two minutes under the watchful eye of our cameras.


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